The freelancing world has grown hugely since the turn of the millennium, and there are many contributing factors including the decline of traditional work structures, the growth of the internet, and the advancement of computer technology. When COVID-19 caused widespread suspension of conventional business, it only increased the appeal for freelancers, an approach to work that allows professionals to flourish without depending entirely on specific employers.

For anyone thinking about hiring a freelancer, this is fantastic news. There are so many more talented freelancers out there than ever before, so the options are extensive. At the same time, though, there are more terrible freelancers out there: people who are incompetent and/or apathetic but are good enough at marketing themselves that they can get some work.

When you’re looking to hire some freelancers, then, you need to get it right. Choosing well will lead to better results and make your life easier in general. To help you manage it, let’s take a look at three essential things you need to consider:

1. Process matters as much as skill

Picking out the best person for the job is highly important, and the logical first step is to focus on listed skills and work samples. This allows you to quickly discount those who aren’t good enough and come up with a shortlist—but there’s something beyond skill that you need to prioritize, and that’s process, which is to say how they get their freelance work done.

Even the simplest freelance project will have some back-and-forth to it, and it needs to be smooth and efficient. How responsive can they be? What tools do they know? Will they use a collaboration tool such as GetBusy to receive and handle tasks in a timely fashion? Can they give you a comprehensive breakdown of their work using a time-tracking tool like HourStack? It’s hardly impossible to hire someone who’s talented only to discover that they’re comparably unreliable—and dealing with a flaky freelancer is sure to prove exceptionally frustrating.

2. You get what you pay for

Outsourcing work is often done because of the financial incentive: hiring someone to work on something full-time is expensive, and there’s a race-to-the-bottom level of pricing through sites like Fiverr that can seem very attractive to business owners who envision getting key projects done for little money. The problem? This race-to-the-bottom element also applies to quality.

If you need someone to design a graphic for your website, you can hire someone for a pittance, but the result won’t be great. A basic logo might take an hour, while a strong logo might take a week. That’s the nature of things: you need to know what quality level you require and be prepared to pay for it, because there’s no way of getting around that part.

In the event that you happen upon a freelancer with a decent rate, solid turnaround times, and decent work, then you should probably keep working with them. Having a decent working relationship with such a freelancer will prove a huge boon in the long run — they might even give you a discounted rate if you can provide them work on a consistent basis.

3. Clear instructions are vital

When you’re dealing with a freelancer, it’s really easy for key things to get lost in translation (metaphorically speaking, of course—you’ll probably be using the same language). You can be totally confident that you’ve been clear about what you want, only to get the result back in a week and realize that it was unfortunately open to interpretation.

This gets less likely the more you get to know a particular freelancer, but that obviously takes time, so you need to be extremely careful when passing an important task to an unfamiliar freelancer. Define it as simply and precisely as you can, get some people you know to review it and tell you what they think it means, then ask your selected freelancer to confirm exactly what they’ll ultimately deliver. Once you know they have the right idea, you can proceed.

Provided you choose well and are willing to pay for good work, hiring a freelancer can be a fantastic decision—and it’s great for supporting entrepreneurs during a time of great economic uncertainty. Keep these essentials in mind and you’ll have a solid experience.

Laura May is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine. We write about beauty, fashion, lifestyle, relationships, travel, trends and anything else that matters to you. Name throwing you off? Don’t take it too seriously – we intend to stand out from the crowd.

Freelancers stock photo by GalacticDreamer/Shutterstock